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County-wide economic development strategy advancing

JAMESTOWN — The Chautauqua County Partnership for Economic Growth (CCPEG) is nearing completion of the second phase of its economic development planning efforts with a recent presentation to unveil a draft Economic Development Strategic Plan to its board, workgroup co-chairs, and the private sector Advisory Council.

The plan was developed with assistance from Camoin 310, a nationally recognized full-service economic development consulting firm. It was funded by the Chautauqua County Division of Economic Development, the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency (CCIDA) and through the generous support of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

The Economic Development Strategy contains several core strategies and five “game changing” initiatives. These are ambitious and impactful initiatives, which are intended to have wide-ranging economic implications for the county. Among the top priorities are specific tactics for: Preparing adequate sites for development; building new housing units; preparing a skilled workforce; increasing visitation by leveraging tourism assets; and investing in the county’s core communities to enhance the tax base.

The strategy was developed to rethinking how we do economic development in the county by bringing together a cross section of leaders to address common issues and to capitalize on the county’s assets. Moreover, it promotes a county-wide outlook that supports substantial initiatives to incrementally transform Chautauqua County’s economic standing in Western New York and across the State of New York.

“We’ve developed an inclusive, collaborative, and comprehensive county-wide economic development strategy that I’m confident will set the stage for Chautauqua County to achieve economic growth,” said Mark Geise, deputy county executive for economic development. “We’re eager to gain additional feedback from our partners, to finalize and adopt this exciting plan, and move toward identification and implementation of specific projects and initiatives.”

The county and the Chautauqua Region Economic Development Corporation (CREDC), the umbrella organization of the partnership, contracted with Camoin 310 in August 2019 to launch the second phase of the process. This dovetailed with the launch of the Partnership for Economic Growth, which was created to realize the tremendous potential of Chautauqua County by working harmoniously to advance widespread economic prosperity.

The draft plan was recently re-worked to include a COVID-19 resiliency framework that the board and other partners will review as they look at defining local actions to reopen the economy. The board, local elected officials, and other stakeholders will continue to have discussions about how to safely reopen businesses and implement measures to aid in economic recovery, and this body of work is intended to guide and accelerate those discussions. More specific details regarding these efforts will be released to the public in the coming weeks.

Geise, who also serves as co-chair of the partnership, added, “We need all partners to get behind the strategy, and work collaboratively to implement its recommendations. In the wake of COVID-19, this is more important than ever before.”

This plan also builds the case for substantial support from state, federal and philanthropic entities to support and grow industries of the future.

“As a business owner, I’m pleased to see this public-private initiative take hold,” said Matt Churchill, Founder of Water Street Brass and Co-Chair of the Partnership Board, “With adequate support, I am hopeful that the collaborative efforts of this broad group of stakeholders will take the county, especially businesses, to new heights.”

The Partnership also recently received its first major financial contribution from the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. This two-year award will enable an additional full-time resource to work toward advancing catalytic and transformational projects, particularly in northern Chautauqua County.

County Executive PJ Wendel added, “The partnership is a great concept as it represents a private-public partnership that brings together a broad range of stakeholders to read off the same sheet of music. That being said, it will only be successful if we have complete buy-in and participation by ALL of the partners. It is so important, especially as we reel from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, that we pool our collective ideas and resources toward a common cause.”

The intent is to create a sustainable funding model with public and private support for operations, and to advance the priority projects and initiatives throughout the county, and to que up projects aligned with work groups for funding annually.

The Economic Development Strategic Plan is set to be completed and adopted by the Partnership Board in June.

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